Easter 5 letter

To my fellow pilgrims on the path of resurrection life 

Last Saturday, mom and I spent a lovely afternoon at Tambea Kitchen and Garden learning a little more about gardening in Australia – and, more specifically, in Wagga’s difficult climate. (I won’t go into detail about the caramelised pear and ginger cake that we also enjoyed over afternoon tea but it definitely deserves a mention).  One idea that the presenter kept coming back to, however, was the importance of thinking about your entrance – whether you live on a farm, in a cottage, in the suburbs, and even in a flat. Your entrance not only makes a first and lasting impression, but it also tells people something about who you are and lets them know where you want them to go and what door you would like them to enter in by. 

Alongside Janice’s joy-filled induction service and the celebration of Mother’s Day (which becomes a little more awkward each year for many preachers due to our deepening awareness of who might feel left out or even be hurt by their memories), the myriad pictures of bold and creative entrances that we were shown has had me thinking a lot about how we extend God’s welcome to our community: 

~ what do our entrances say about us?
~ how do people know where to go?
~ does our welcome encourage them to enter through the door of our church and the Door of Life?

As we continue to journey with the book of Acts and the stories of the church coming to life in this season of Eastertide, we encounter the apostle Peter freshly returned from Joppa where many had come to profess faith in the resurrected Christ. His greeting by the believers in Jerusalem is not quite what we might expect:

“The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’”  Acts 11:1-2

And so Peter explains: 

~ his vision of God making what he considered impure clean,
~ the timely invitation to Caesarea,
~ and how he witnessed the gift of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles.

THEN the disciples rejoice at how God is opening up the way, expanding the kingdom to include those that they had not judged worthy! 

As Revelation 21:1-6 reminds us today: God is moving into the neighbourhood. Heaven, in Christ, is coming to earth. And the Church exists as a sign of this Truth.

As God makes God’s dwelling place with all people, I wonder how we can offer a cheerful entrance and a warm welcome rather than the unspoken 

“This venue reserves the right
to refuse admission to any person”

which shows on so many faces when the unexpected and “unwanted” show up. 

This week, may we be particularly aware of the opportunities to extend God’s welcome to friend and neighbour and stranger.

Yours in Christ
Yvonne 

Day Thirty: Mindful

Psalm 8
Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
Revelation 21:1-6a
Matthew 25:31-46

I write this for these words are trustworthy and true:
God makes all things new! (Revelation 21:5)

A new day,
a new year;
handcrafted by He-who-makes-all-things-beautiful
in itself
and in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

A new heaven,
a new earth;
tears gone,
crying gone,
pain gone,
death gone,
as God makes God’s dwelling among us.
(Revelation 21:1-4)

Imagine for a moment the Sovereign Lord who placed each star in its shining setting hands-on in your life, making all things new for you.

Sit for a while with the Psalmist’s question (Psalm 8:4), “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” 

The sense of past and future
is God’s gracious gift to us:
a profound glimpse into the infinite mystery of the Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End,
the-One-who-holds-it-all-together.

And, as each new season unfolds
and finds its place within the context of the first things passing away
for the long-awaited,
the new-created;
we discover not only how mindful God is of each one of our life circumstances,
but also how heedful,
how aware of,
how alive to
God’s presence and power we must be
that this new time
may, indeed, be the right time –

be it for birth, or death;
holding on, or letting go;
killing, or healing;
shutting up, or speaking out;
crying, or laughing ….

Read again the passage from Ecclesiastes, focusing on the different seasons of life.

What season(s) are you longing for in this new year?
Which make you anxious or fearful?  

 Mindfulness –
the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something

… of God handcrafting the heavens,
and hands-on in our lives …

… of God in the seasons we long for,
and those we long to avoid …

… of God in the hungry,
the thirsty,
the homeless,
the naked,
the prisoner,
the sick …

… of God needing a meal,
a bed,
a visit,
a drink …

… of God in the old
and in the new,
in things long passed away
and those unfolding too ….

On this new day
in this new year,
may we be mindful
of what God is making
and fearlessly seek out
the people and places
where new things are happening.